Time is a precious resource, especially for entrepreneurs aiming to enhance their business skills. As a micro-entrepreneur myself, I understand the struggles of managing time amidst the constant pull of distractions, particularly the allure of social media and email notifications.
In the realm of entrepreneurship, effective time management isn’t just a task – it’s a critical skill that can make or break success. The challenges are real: emails flooding in, industry landscapes shifting, and an ever-growing to-do list. But here’s the heart of the matter: How can entrepreneurs conquer these challenges while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
Here are some of the pain points in time management for entrepreneurs:
- Too many distractions: As I mentioned earlier, there are endless distractions that can derail our productivity. Social media, email, and notifications are just a few of the things that can pull us away from our work.
- Unclear priorities: When we don’t have clear priorities, it’s easy to get sidetracked and waste time on tasks that aren’t important.
- Procrastination: We all procrastinate from time to time, but it can be a major problem for entrepreneurs. When we procrastinate, we put off important tasks and make it harder to achieve our goals.
- Lack of delegation: As entrepreneurs, we often try to do everything ourselves. However, this is not sustainable and can lead to burnout. Learning to delegate tasks to others is essential for time management.
- Poor work-life balance: It’s important for entrepreneurs to have a healthy work-life balance. But when we’re constantly working, it can be hard to find time for ourselves and our loved ones.
Luckily, I’ve had the privilege to talk to experts who’ve mastered time management and generously shared their insights. These are the masters of making every moment count in 2023. Let’s dive into their actionable advice and uncover the secrets to effective time management for entrepreneurs in the year ahead.
Insights from Experts on Effective Time Management for Entrepreneurs
Automate Your Workflow
Imagine if your routine tasks could take care of themselves while you tackle the big-picture stuff. Well, that’s no longer a fantasy in today’s fast-paced business realm. Workflow automation helps entrepreneurs save time and use resources efficiently.
Ankit Dhadwal, the founder and CEO of Mount Shine, says that automating his workflow has helped him and his team save time and focus on other essential tasks.
When Mount Shine adopted this automation strategy, they witnessed remarkable growth. All because their team could focus on driving creativity and strategy, leaving the mundane tasks to the machines.
Here are some tips for automating your workflow:
- Identify the tasks that can be automated: Not all tasks can be automated, but many can. Take some time to think about the tasks that take up the most of your time and see if they can be automated.
- Use the right tools: There are a number of project management tools available that can help you automate your workflow. Choose a tool that is right for your needs and that your employees are comfortable using.
- Get buy-in from your team: Automating your workflow can be a big change, so it’s important to get buy-in from your team. Explain the benefits of automation and how it will help them save time and be more productive.
Implement Prioritization Strategies
Prioritization is the process of deciding which tasks are the most important and need to be done first. When you know what you need to focus on, you are less likely to feel stressed or overwhelmed. This is because you are not trying to do too much at once.
April Lokar, the founder of Semi-Conventional, offers a practical tip that resonates deeply in our productivity-driven era:
Picture this: you’re a project manager handling a crucial client presentation, an imminent deadline, and a growing inbox. Instead of feeling swamped, you sit back at the end of your workday and pen down your top three priorities for tomorrow: nail the presentation flow, finalize data for the deadline, and address urgent client emails. The next morning, you plunge right in, no hesitation, no guesswork, just laser-focused determination.
Here are some other tips for prioritizing your tasks:
- Be specific: When you’re identifying your “most important tasks” or MITs, be specific about what you need to accomplish. Don’t just say “Write an email.” Instead, say “Write an email to my client about the upcoming project.”
- Prioritize them: Once you’ve identified your MITs, prioritize them. Put the most important task at the top of the list and the least important task at the bottom.
- Focus on one task at a time: When you’re working on your MITs, focus on one task at a time. Don’t try to multitask.
Take breaks: Don’t try to work on your MITs for too long without taking a break. Get up and move around every 20-30 minutes.
Big Rocks First
The metaphor of big rocks and pebbles is used to illustrate the importance of prioritizing your tasks. If you were to fill a jar with pebbles, sand, and big rocks, you would need to put the big rocks in first. If you tried to put the big rocks in last, they wouldn’t fit.
The same is true with your time. If you try to fit all of your tasks into your day without prioritizing them, you won’t be able to get everything done. You’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
Kathryn Read, an international sales and marketing consultant, says that she uses this strategy to stay on track:
Kathryn also said that she learned a long time ago that she was most productive in the afternoons, so she tried to arrange meetings in the mornings. If she needed to work on computer projects when her energy was low, she would book a Focusmate session to give herself an extra layer of accountability.
If you know when you’re most productive, try to schedule your most important tasks for those times. And if you need help staying motivated or focused, try booking a Focusmate session. It’s a website that connects you with a randomly assigned partner for a 50-minute focused work session.
Kathryn’s got a book recommendation too: “Winning the Week” by Demir and Carey Bentley. As a graduate of their flagship coaching, she vouches for their strategies.
Here are some additional tips for using the “big rocks first” strategy:
- Identify your big rocks: What are the most important tasks that you need to accomplish?
- Schedule your big rocks first: Don’t let them get pushed to the bottom of your to-do list.
- Leave some space for unexpected events: Things don’t always go according to plan, so it’s important to leave some room for unexpected events.
- Review your schedule each day: Make sure you’re staying on track and that you’re not getting bogged down in the pebbles.
In today’s digital world, it can be hard to focus. There is so much noise and distractions everywhere. Digital decluttering is a strategy to help you regain your focus and productivity. It involves getting rid of the unnecessary digital clutter in your life, such as unnecessary emails, social media accounts, and apps.
Tina Bar, an e-commerce coach for business and mindset growth, says that she recommends spending 30 minutes per week decluttering her inbox and social feeds.
“My rule is for content that makes the cut, set aside 1 hour that same day to take 1 action step, for example, watch the expert’s Youtube tutorial and implement it in your own business. Once you create the habit of setting aside time for learning + implementing you will see not only progress in your business growth but also a more positive feeling of personal well-being. You are an active participant who is expanding and growing vs. a passive observer. The passive state is what makes us feel unsuccessful, unsettled, and open to negative thoughts. The active state moves us forward in our business and financial goals and also creates resilience and strength in our mindset,” Tina added.
Tina’s wisdom doesn’t end with decluttering; she injects a productivity boost. Her rule is simple: if the content survives scrutiny and aligns with your objectives, carve out an hour on the same day to take a tangible step forward.
Here are some other tips for decluttering your digital life:
- Unsubscribe from marketing emails: If you don’t need it, don’t subscribe to it.
- Unfollow accounts that don’t interest you: This includes social media accounts, email lists, and even newsfeeds.
- Delete apps that you don’t use: If you haven’t used an app in a month, delete it.
- Set aside time each week to declutter: This will help you stay on top of things and avoid getting overwhelmed.
Integrate Focus To-Do and ChatGPT
One way to improve your time management is to use a combination of tools and techniques. Two popular tools that you can use are Focus To-Do and ChatGPT.
Focus To-Do is a Chrome extension that helps you organize your tasks and time. It uses the Pomodoro Technique, which is a time management method that breaks down work into 25-minute intervals separated by short breaks.
ChatGPT is a large language model chatbot developed by OpenAI. It can be used for a variety of tasks, including generating text, translating languages, and writing different kinds of creative content.
Terrina Taylor, the CEO of The Payments Connoisseur, uses Focus To-Do and ChatGPT to improve her time management.
Now, let’s expand your toolkit with more tips for conquering time management:
- Power up with Pomodoro: Try the Pomodoro Technique—work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break. Rinse and repeat for optimal focus.
- Embrace AI assistance: Beyond ChatGPT, explore other AI tools that can streamline tasks, automate processes, and boost your efficiency.
- Prioritize and conquer: Combine Focus To-Do with task prioritization. Tackle the most important tasks during your peak productivity hours.
Focus on One Big Goal Daily
Entrepreneurs have a lot on their plates. Those who fail to focus on one big goal daily often find themselves trapped in a cycle of scattered efforts. One way to stay on track is to focus on one big goal per day. This means choosing one task that is most important and making it your top priority.
Liviu Tanase, founder and CEO of ZeroBounce, says that this is a tactic that has been working well for him.
“Once I’m done with the most urgent micro-tasks, I focus 100% on my goal and keep going until I get it done. I take breaks, but when I return to my computer, I get back to my most important project… Whenever I follow this rule, I end the day with a sense of accomplishment,” he added.
If you’re an entrepreneur who is struggling to focus on one big goal daily, here are a few things you can do:
- Identify your most important goal: What is the one thing that you need to get done today?
- Schedule time for your goal: Block off some time in your calendar and make it non-negotiable.
- Celebrate your accomplishments: When you finish your goal, take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment. This will help you stay motivated and focused.
Recognize Limits, Avoid Overcommitting, and Take Breaks
Now, let’s talk about mental wellness. Tiyanna Washington, a licensed psychotherapist and the founder of Tspeaksnyc, says that you can improve your productivity and protect your mental health by taking a holistic approach. This means setting realistic expectations, avoiding overcommitting, taking breaks, and practicing mindfulness.
Tiyanna also says that taking regular breaks is important for maintaining clarity and productivity. She also recommends mindfulness exercises, engaging with a support network, and prioritizing sleep to improve your mental health and entrepreneurial mindset.
Here are some other tips for managing your time and avoiding overcommitting:
- Set realistic goals: Don’t try to do too much at once. Break down your goals into smaller, more manageable steps.
- Prioritize your tasks: Decide which tasks are the most important and focus on those first.
- Delegate tasks: If you can, delegate tasks to others so that you can free up your time.
Learn more: Ways to Manage Stress in the Workplace
Procrastination is a silent productivity killer. There are many things that can cause procrastination, such as feeling overwhelmed, not knowing where to start, or being afraid of failure.
Louise Henry, a digital course creator and online business strategist, says that the best way to overcome procrastination is to figure out when your brain works best and save your hardest work for that time.
Louise shares that when she is really procrastinating on a certain task, she uses a timer. She decides to spend 30 minutes on it and see how far she gets. She finds that working against a timer helps her stay focused, and she typically gets way more done in that 30-minute block than she thought she would. She feels so motivated that she ends up doing this again and again throughout the day.
Here are some other tips for overcoming procrastination:
- Break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones: This will make them seem less daunting and more achievable.
- Set deadlines for yourself and stick to them: This will help you stay motivated and on track.
- Reward yourself for completing tasks: This will help you build positive associations with productivity.
- Avoid distractions: This means turning off your phone, closing your email, and finding a quiet place to work.
Stay on Track with Pacing Timers
Pacing timers are a great way to manage your time and avoid procrastination. They work by setting a timer for a short period of time, such as 15 or 30 minutes, and then working on a task until the timer goes off. This helps you to stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked.
Trevor Lohrbeer, co-founder of Day Optimizer, says that pacing timers can be especially helpful for entrepreneurs.
Trevor adds a pro-tip: “Opt for a gentle alarm sound like ocean waves or birds chirping so it brings a gentle awareness and doesn’t jar you out of your flow.”
Trevor also highly recommends using Day Optimizer. It enforces a 3-step planning process where entrepreneurs must commit to what they plan to do in a day, allocate time to each commitment, then schedule those commitments in a daily agenda that doesn’t allow for multi-tasking.
Here are some tips for using pacing timers:
- Choose a timer that has a gentle alarm sound: A gentle alarm sound is less likely to startle you and make you lose your train of thought.
- Work on a task until the timer goes off: Don’t check your email, social media, or anything else that could distract you. Just focus on the task at hand.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t stick to the timer perfectly: Just keep trying and you’ll eventually get the hang of it.
Time Management Hacks from Skill Success CEO/Founder, Michael Shen
At Skill Success, we understand the undeniable value of time. Every moment holds potential for growth, innovation, and achievement. With this steadfast belief in mind, I sought insights from our leader, Michael Shen, an EdTech entrepreneur and the visionary founder of Skill Success.
Through an enlightening interview, Michael graciously shared his most impactful time management practices, offering a firsthand glimpse into how he maximizes productivity and success.
What are the top management techniques that have significantly contributed to your success as an entrepreneur?
Having a weekly planning routine: It has helped me most with time management because it gives me a roadmap of what the next week looks like. It helps me to identify what are the top initiatives for me to work on and when I will work on them.
Working in time blocks: I like to batch together similar work into focused time blocks w/o distractions — no email, no phone, etc.
Working with a timer: This helps me sprint towards getting something done and makes sure I’m not letting tasks drag on.
When asked about his approach to striking a balance between work, personal life, and self-care, Michael emphasizes the power of honing in on the most impactful initiatives:
“Make sure you only work on the most important things.You’d be surprised how much time is wasted working on initiatives that are mildly impactful. If you spend time identifying the most impactful initiatives and put all your focus on those things, you might achieve better results while working less.”
FAQs About Time Management for Entrepreneurs
Why is time management important for entrepreneurs?
It helps maximize productivity, reduce stress, and achieve business goals. Efficiently allocating time to essential tasks, prioritizing activities, and avoiding distractions can lead to better business outcomes and work-life balance.
What are some common time-wasting activities entrepreneurs should avoid?
Common time-wasters include excessive social media usage, frequent email checking, multitasking, attending unnecessary meetings, and disorganized workspaces. Identifying and minimizing these activities can significantly improve time management.
How can entrepreneurs overcome procrastination?
Entrepreneurs can combat procrastination by breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps, setting specific deadlines, using techniques like the Pomodoro Technique (working in focused intervals), and finding accountability partners or mentors to stay on track.
How can entrepreneurs deal with a constantly changing schedule?
Adaptability is crucial. Entrepreneurs can use agile planning, leave buffer time between tasks, and prioritize tasks based on the changing circumstances. Regularly reviewing and adjusting schedules helps accommodate unexpected changes.
What strategies can entrepreneurs use to achieve a work-life balance?
Entrepreneurs can set boundaries between work and personal life, designate specific work hours, disconnect from digital devices during personal time, engage in hobbies, exercise, and spend quality time with family and friends.
Becoming a time management master isn’t just an option—it’s the key to making your business thrive. We’ve learned helpful tips from experts that can change how entrepreneurs do their daily work. Try these proven time management ideas and use them in your business journey.
For those seeking an extra boost in their entrepreneurial prowess, subscribe to Skill Success’s All Access Pass—a gateway to an extensive library of courses like business skills, entrepreneurship, and career development.
Use these expert tips, invest in getting better, and let time management be your strong helper as you work towards being a successful entrepreneur.